Episode One: Louis Rocca

The first episode of the all-new United Through Time podcast has been released.

It focuses on Louis Rocca and is available on all good podcast networks, including:

iTunes acast Spotify

Podcast description

United Through Time looks at Louis Rocca: the second-generation Italian immigrant who brought Matt Busby to Manchester United and created the country’s first ever organised scouting network.

This is the man without whom Manchester United could have been called Manchester Celtic and who helped to set up the Manchester United academy as well as helping to save the club from bankruptcy twice.

Louis Rocca dedicated 60 years of his life to Manchester United, starting out as an eight-year-old teaboy and progressing through every role you can imagine. The cornerstones of the club – its name, its stadium, its record of academy players, its colours – were all laid down during Rocca’s time of involvement.

United Through Time is the new podcast delving into Manchester United’s long and famous history. Going in chronological order, United Through Time will focus on the most important individuals at the club since Manchester United was founded as Newton Heath in 1878.

Louis Rocca timeline artwork.jpg

Hosted by Harry Robinson, two guests are heard on this episode as we cover the themes of Italian re-unification, life in 19th century Britain and much more as well as the more general football stuff.

Tony Rea is the utter authority on Italian immigration into Manchester and the Ancoats community which Rocca grew up in. You can read more from him at his website www.ancoatslittleitaly.com

Paddy Barclay, meanwhile, has written the “definitive autobiography” on Sir Matt Busby. It’s available to buy online and from all good booksellers.

If you enjoy the episode, please take the time to leave us a review on iTunes. You can even do it while you’re listening! You can also follow us on Twitter at @UtdThroughTime or check out our website at unitedthroughtime.com


00:00:00 Intro

00:04:37 Background to Rocca’s upbringing

00:11:25 How Rocca got involved with Newton Heath

00:16:34 Renaming Newton Heath -> Manchester United

00:25:40 Rocca’s scouting genius

00:32:40 How Rocca signed a player down a mine

00:33:26 The story behind Harry Worrall signing for Manchester United

00:34:36 Signing a player for 4 freezers of ice cream

00:37:57 Signing Johnny Carey

00:40:50 Man United’s second great financial crisis

00:48:00 Manchester United start their famous academy

00:49:42 The war at Old Trafford

00:53:42 Bringing Matt Busby to Manchester United

00:57:57 Providing Busby with a Cup-winning side

01:00:37 Rocca’s importance to Manchester United today

01:03:44 Outro

Louis Rocca tales: signing Harry Worrall

Harry Worrall was a young player in action for Windsford in a Cheshire League game. Rocca had sent trusted associate Ted Connor to watch him and report back. Connor did so, and told Rocca of Worrall’s talent. Rocca had watched him once before and with Connor’s report backing him up, decided to go and bring him to Manchester United. But half of the clubs in the country wanted Harry Worrall, or were looking at him, at least.

Rocca went to Winsford the following Wednesday. They had a game at 3PM. Arriving at the family home, Rocca was told by Harry’s father that he was out at his job as a bricklayer. Worrall arrived home for lunch at 1:30 with just over an hour until kick off and encouraged by Rocca, he pitched into steak, chips, bread, butter and then rice pudding. As he’d started his lunch, Rocca writes “I couldn’t believe my luck” and then said, “Go on Harry, that’s the stuff to feed on, you’ll show them all to play!”

Worrall went on to eat the “largest meal” that Rocca had “ever seen a lad eat”.

10 minutes into the game, stuffed full of a Rocca-inspired lunch, Worrall had hardly touched the ball and every scout but Rocca and one other had left.

Only the scout from Liverpool remained, having been convinced of his quality previously, like Rocca and Connor. Rocca now just need to beat one man to Worrall’s signature rather than 10. The price, too, was driven down by only two clubs being interested rather than many.

Louis Rocca: the trailer out

The trailer for Series 1 (influential individuals), Episode 1 is out.

Louis Rocca is the subject of our first episode. Here’s why he’s important in brief:

  • Claims he re-named the club from Newton Heath to Manchester United
  • Served the club for 55 years as teaboy, kitman, groundsman, chief scout, manager
  • Helped to bring Sir Matt Busby to the club as manager
  • Helped to found the Manchester United Junior Athletic Club (MUJAC), the predecessor to the ‘academy’

Joining your host Harry Robinson on this episode will be guests Tony Rea (author of Manchester’s Ancoats: Little Italy) and Paddy Barclay (author of Sir Matt Busby: the definitive biography and former football correspondent of the Times, Independent, Guardian and Telegraph).

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